Marie Miller began performing at age 12, playing local music gigs in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. It was highly stressful, she told Zenger — sometimes hundreds of people watching she and her sister on stage.
Fast-forward 20 years and Miller has played in front of not hundreds of people, but hundreds of thousands, live on CNN and Fox. She’s shared the stage with legacy acts like Aretha Franklin and Five for Fighting. And her songs have been streamed 8 million times, and featured on CMT, VH1 and “Dancing With The Stars.”
It’s a far cry from Miller’s humble start, and from the vast majority of musicians who the federal government reports have “long periods of unemployment” and who have “permanent jobs in other occupations.” Even during the pandemic, Miller was able to continue growing her business, expanding her target markets from ticket buyers and festivals to corporate event planners.
Miller attributes much of her success to media coverage that puts her above the competition. “Anyone can send a YouTube video with a few hundred views,” she told Zenger. “I send my videos with a HuffPost article where I was called ‘the next Taylor Swift’ and several Billboard 100 articles about my singles. This creates tremendous brand value which secures more shows, earns more money per show, and creates long-term passive revenue from streaming.”
Creating more sales and bigger profits
For Miller, there is a linear relationship between media coverage and improved sales. More festivals and venues want to hire her, which creates core revenue on which she can rely week to week and month to month. And when corporate opportunities arrive, she can charge big bucks which are highly profitable.
The sales cycle for your business may be more complex, so media coverage will likely act less as a direct lead generator and more as a lead accelerant as part of a larger strategy.
An article or opinion piece can be used to create more trust with existing prospects through your newsletter and social media, and as a blog post on the company website. Cold calls will become warmer because new prospects want to know more about the solutions you provided in an interview or essay. And when all prospects look you up before meetings, your insights will be given more credibility because their trusted media sources trusted you.
“In a global market where most products are commodities, individuals make deals happen — and buyers will speak to the most credible and visible salesperson first,” said sales trainer and Salesman Podcast host Will Barron. “Our podcast drives 17,000 monthly leads and half of our revenue, and was the key to our recent HubSpot partnership, which led to a prominent speaking opportunity, more press and more visibility.”
Long-term growth opportunities
Media coverage that creates more revenue and more profits today can also create long-term revenue opportunities by positioning one’s brand in front of new — and sometimes bigger — clients. Miller’s core audience is the casual music listener. But her strategy is “to reach anyone who likes my genre of pop-country.”
“I have purposely created a brand which engages my core audience while opening new doors to” customers of all kinds, she told Zenger, “from concert ticket-buyers to corporate event organizers to people who stream from their homes.” Miller reaches these diverse markets by earning great press in local outlets which directly lead to more ticket sales per show.
“Without shows, I have no business,” said Miller. “Without concert venues and corporate events, I have little profit. And without streaming, I have no long-term passive revenue. Each of these income sources reaches a different target market, and each one is critical to my success.”
“We hired Marie to play in 2019 because she’s so well-known to our core audience through her performances and media coverage,” said Appaloosa Festival Artist Liaison Brian Lohmann. “We rely on media for many of the artists we hire, because we can’t see every applicant play in person before the festival. Coverage in outlets like Relix, Bluegress Today, and Rolling Stone give us confidence that up-and-coming talent will resonate with attendees in the same way as Marie and our Grammy award-winning performers.”
What about negative media?
It may not all be positive media coverage. What do you do if you get negative press?
Bill Greene, a veteran strategic communicator in the Washington, D.C. political scene, observed that “speed is essential in responding to bad press. Use your press contacts, social media, or outside validators to respond respectfully and forcefully – and preferably in the same news cycle. And when you do hit PR turbulence, keep track of how you respond, so you’re always prepared to give your side of the story”
He added, “In whatever field you are in, always remember the wisdom of pitcher Catfish Hunter, who said, ‘The sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s a** every day.’ What that means for anyone in the public eye, even in less controversial business settings, is you can fully expect a little bad press now and then. If you are honest and hard-working and people like you, or you’ve carved out a niche, people will like you even more when they see you defending your honor or overcoming a challenge.”
Steve Susens, a veteran communications director who specializes in crises communications, agrees that rebuttal speed is critical. “Addressing the situation immediately is best, even if it means providing a more general statement that the company or individual is aware of the situation and looking into it and will provide a more detailed response once all the information is available,” he said.
“In the meantime, working with a trusted media connection to give your side of the story is always advantageous. This will provide a better forum to get the right messages out in a fair and non-combative manner to help address the situation,” said Susens, who has served in numerous conflict areas, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.
Supercharge sales today and tomorrow
Miller has been on a steady climb for two decades because of her hard work and unique brand positioning. Along the way, great media coverage has convinced her target markets to hire her more often and pay her more money than the competition. Business owners can take her success and make it their own by having a media strategy which:
- Makes you stand out from the competition – like Miller’s endorsements from HuffPost and Billboard.
- Uses press to create greater following and engagement for newsletters and social media content, and quality content on the company website.
- Reaches your target markets directly – like Miller’s songs which aired live on CNN and Fox – to turn cold calls into warm conversations.
All companies want better leads, faster sales, and bigger profits. The right media strategy can help you do all three today, tomorrow, and – as Marie Miller has proven— for years in the future.
Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Bryan Wilkes
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